My husband's father passed away last Saturday morning after suffering from Alzheimer's for many years. It was a blessing since he was a Christian who was ready to go home.
Of course, it is hard for the family and friends who loved him.
Even though he was a complicated man and we didn't have a close relationship, I learned many lessons from observing his life. I thought I would share those lessons today.
In random order....
1. Hard work pays off. My father-in-law was a farmer who rarely sat down. He worked hard from the time he got up until the sun went down. He taught his children that same great work ethic, and my boys and I have benefited greatly from my husband learning that lesson well.
2. Parenting comes in different forms. My Fil had a very rough childhood and was sent to a dear aunt and uncle at the age of 14 when his mother married a man who didn't want him. These people and their son were a great influence and gave him the love and security he needed.
3. Education changes everything. After returning from WW2, Burell took advantage of the GI bill and enrolled at the University of Illinois. He graduated with a degree in Vocational Ag. As far as I know, he was the first in his family to ever attend college. Since then, 11 of his 53 descendants have also graduated from the U of I with many others earning degrees from other colleges. We now have doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers, teachers, farmers, and businessmen in our family.
4. The cycle of family dysfunction and poverty can be broken with hard work and faith.
5. Love your spouse. My in-laws loved each other deeply until the very end, showing all of us that our marriage vows were not just "words" lightly spoken.
6. See the world while you still can. He and my mil went on a wonderful trip to Europe a few years ago, and we are so glad that they did! They are still friends with some of the people they met on that trip.
7. Give back to the community. Even though he was very busy running a farming operation and raising 5 children, Burell still made time to serve on various boards in the community and to be a
4-H leader for many years.
8. Share your story. Before he lost his memory, Brad's dad worked diligently to write down his life story. Through his book Life of a Poor Boy, he was able to share details of his life that he had been unable to verbally express to his children. Because of this gift, they and the many others who have since read it, better understand what made Burell tick. What a legacy this is for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren! I am pleading with my dad to do the same.
9. Pay attention to details. My in-laws' farm and garden were always kept in tip-top shape because my father-in-law stayed on top of things. (Edited to add the apostrophe-guess I need to pay more attention to details! lol)
10. Most importantly, Burell held his relationship with his God as the highest priority in life.
My father-in-law was not perfect and he knew it. He was probably his worst critic and carried the scars of his childhood with him until the day he died.
However, he left behind a wonderful, loving family who were blessed with a childhood totally different than his. He was determined that they would have a different life, and he met that goal with flying colors.